Peter Rodger, the IAM’s Chief Examiner says, “Bad weather can strike quickly, and more severely than you expect, so now is the time to give your car a health-check before winter conditions take their toll.” He suggests some easy tips to prepare your car…
1. Ensure your windscreen wipers are in good condition and regularly clean the inside of the windscreen.
2. Top up your windscreen washer fluid with a suitable anti-freeze screenwash and make sure your ice scraper and old cans of de-icer are up to the job. Ensure windscreen wipers are switched off when you start the ignition; if they freeze in the ‘on’ position you risk blowing the fuse.
3. Check your tyres thoroughly. The legal minimum depth for tyre tread in the UK is 1.6mm, but, for optimum safety, look for replacements if the depth is below 3mm. Tyres with less than 1mm of tread depth have one third the braking friction of one at the bare legal min of 1.6mm, and below 3mm the tyres skid resistance begins to decline rapidly.
4. Check all lights. While someone observes the lights around the car, switch on each light one-by-one: headlights, sidelights, fog lights, indicators, brake lights, reversing lights, hazard warning lights and number plate lights. If alone, park by a reflective surface such as a garage door, illuminate all lights in sequence and look for the reflections
5. Pack an emergency kit in the boot. The IAM recommends a warm coat and a high visibility jacket, some food and water, a good pair of boots, de-icer and scraper, a torch, a spade and a mobile phone with a well-charged battery. It’s also a good idea to programme your breakdown provider’s emergency number, and your own customer reference number into your phone.
6. If you take any regular, essential medications, make sure you carry enough with you, should you get delayed.
Mr. Rodger continued: “A recent survey has found that ten out of 11 rural councils still have not managed to complete all the necessary road repairs after last winter’s severe weather, and it is likely that budget cuts will make things worse. If this problem is reflected across the country, having a well-maintained car, with particular attention to your tyres, is going to be even more important.”